Make Money With a Home Furniture Refinishing Business

Here's the scoop on a money-making enterprise with a home furniture refinishing business that requires little start-up investment, includes getting started, course in furniture refinishing, pricing, repairs and restoration.

| July/August 1985

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    Buying and selling quality used furnishings and antiques can be a natural outgrowth of the furniture refinishing business. In the photo Nancy Hall chats with a customer in one of the two farmhouse bedrooms that she and husband Tim have converted to showrooms.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Quality materials, good lighting, and a dustfree work space are essential to achieving the best refinishing results. Here, Nancy Hall handrubs the second finish coat of polyurethane onto an antique treadle sewing machine cabinet.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    To achieve the best results, save money, and minimize fumes, Tim Hall applies top-quality paint and varnish remover with a brush rather than using the production -line method of dipping a piece of furniture into a vat of cheap stripper.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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Make money with a home furniture refinishing business that requires little start-up investment. (See the furniture refinishing photos in the image gallery.)

For the past five years, our two-person family has enjoyed the good life. We own a fine old farmhouse on three beautiful country acres, and we have secure, satisfying, rewarding jobs with the greatest employers in the world . . . ourselves.

But it wasn't always that way. Our current lifestyle wasn't served up to us on a silver platter, and success in business didn't come about overnight. We worked long and hard for both.

When we were first married, we punched time clocks. And though our employers sometimes seemed to be getting rich from our efforts, we certainly weren't. Consequently, the only way we could afford to equip our house with the fine old furniture we both loved was by haunting flea markets and garage sales in search of dirt-cheap (but sound) used furniture, then refinishing it ourselves. We found that we enjoyed working with wood, and as a result we put our best efforts into it—but we were still surprised when our friends not only complimented us on our work, but began asking us to refinish their prized pieces of furniture.



We did . . . and that's when our future began falling into place: Our friends told their friends, who passed the word on to others and before we knew it, what had been an avocation brought about by necessity had transformed itself into a vocation of choice. (It seems that just about everyone has a few pieces of furniture in need of refinishing.) After a while, we were able to give up our jobs and keep ourselves busy (and solvent) working out of our own home, doing labor we enjoyed and (as we slowly began to realize) were good at.

So far, we've earned all or part of our income from our home furniture refinishing business in Indiana, Florida, and the Carolinas, and in each of those locations, demand for this service has exceeded the supply of good local refinishers. (Notice we said good refinishers; more on that in a moment.) And from what we've seen, a similar seller's market exists in just about every part of the country.

Van Sullivan
8/2/2018 9:51:26 AM

I want to thank you for your open and candid advise in this area .It sounds like it might be just the thing for me . I just completed a small but comfortable 16' x 20' workshop with intentions of building antique renditions such as old oak ice boxes , cedar chests , and possibly armoires and such . I did custom cabinet work for my dad in his shop for years before being blessed with a full benefits and excellent pension career as a firefighter for a major city department . I have since retired from that and the military and , pardon my candor , can't see myself taking orders from some snotty nosed punk fresh out of college with no life experience but a boatload of attitude ! At 62 , I've been in a supervisory position for roughly 40 years so I'm no old goat but more like an old ram . Thank you for your tutelage and open honesty !


vince
7/25/2011 11:51:49 AM

Hello I have just started refinishing furniture and i love doing it! i have only had on customer so far but it went well, i usually go to yard sales and a few antique shops to find things. What you said about polyurethane being the best stain is just what i have found out myself...but being as i just started out i need to find a guide to wood, to be able to look at a piece and say that's oak or cherry.. and also i need to find a place for my polyurethane, i have had some problems with it just gelling up on me? any suggestions? thank you for your time. vince







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